Oil prices expected to stay at 2010 levels: Saudi minister

21:26, January 24, 2011      

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World oil prices in 2011 are expected to remain at the same levels as last year, Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi said Monday.

Global oil demand may increase as much as 1.8 million barrels a day, the oil chief of OPEC's largest producer said at the Annual Global Competitiveness Forum held in the Saudi capital on Jan. 22- 25, Dubai-based al-Arabiya TV reported.

Naimi expected Saudi Arabia's spare oil capacity to stay at around four million barrels per day this year, adding that overall OPEC's spare capacity is expected to be at approximately six million barrels per day.

Asia is now Saudi Arabia's main export market, which represents about 60 percent of the kingdom's oil exports, he added.

"The only thing that I'm concerned about is the pressure exerted by speculators, analysts and some investors in the futures market on prices to push them up or down away from market fundamentals," he said.

OPEC, responsible for 40 percent of global production, has 12 members including Algeria, Angola, Ecuador, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Venezuela.

OPEC's objective is to coordinate and unify petroleum policies among member countries in order to secure fair and stable prices for petroleum producers.

The OPEC Conference of Ministers meets in ordinary session twice a year, and is responsible for the formation of the general policy of the organization.

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